Marking the start of Privacy Awareness Week in Australia, new research has revealed that only two in five Australians surveyed feel there are appropriate existing privacy laws in place and 75 per cent failed to name any government policies around privacy. Furthermore, only 8 per cent could recall ‘The Privacy Act’ and despite recent exposure and debate, just 1 per cent mentioned metadata legislation.
Over two thirds of Australians (72 per cent) say that they consider their own privacy when sharing personal information online, but when it comes to the ability of others to protect our personal information we’re an untrusting nation, with only a quarter (24 per cent) saying that they feel businesses are quick to fix situations where there has been a misuse of personal information. Australians trust health care providers the most with their data (50 per cent), followed by the federal government (43 per cent) and financial institutions (33 per cent), yet show the highest distrust in social media and app developers when it comes to protecting their information.
In alignment with the Office of Australian Information Commissioner’s awareness week theme of Privacy Everyday, the research by Intel Security surveyed 1,200 Australians to gauge opinions, awareness and attitudes surrounding privacy throughout our daily lives.
Commenting on the findings, Gavin Struthers, President for Intel Security APAC says, “These findings should act as a timely reminder to both the government and businesses alike that the public feels there is a need for more accountability and transparency with respect to privacy.
“Clearly the government and businesses have to make a concerted effort to educate Australians about privacy laws and instill confidence that when a privacy intrusion occurs, the matter will be investigated and resolved swiftly and transparently, with further measures put in place to help prevent it from happening again,” Struthers said.
Trade and Trust
With increased trust comes increased trade. Australians are willing to provide personal data to companies they trust in exchange for a more personalised and better user experience. The survey revealed that travel smartcards, location tracking services, TV subscription/streaming services and personal health & fitness devices are the outlets we most trust to collect and manage our information.
On the other end of the spectrum, Australians said that they placed the least amount of trust in social media (33 per cent), followed by public WiFi services (30 per cent) and mobile apps (28 per cent) to handle our personal information.
Australian Privacy Concerns
When asked to rate their level of concern on a scale of 0-10, the online issues that showed the highest level of concern (a level between 7-10) were:
• Privacy of personal information: 80 per cent reported high concern
• Phishing scams: 75 per cent reported high concern
• Cloud security breaches: 65 per cent reported high concern
Handling of Personal Information
In the past 12 months, just over one in ten (13 per cent) Australians surveyed said that they have experienced issues with how their information was handled – which is perhaps not surprising given that in the workplace only 54 per cent of employees that handle third party/customer information feel that their employer has adequately trained them on the appropriate handling of such data.
Internet of Things (IoT): Trust and Risk vs. Benefits
Looking at the tradeoff of risk versus benefits in IoT – travel smartcards and location services were the only instances where the public saw benefits of sharing personal information outweigh the risks.
All other applications were generally seen as having equal risks and benefits, with social media apps, public WiFi services and mobile apps once more seen as the riskiest uses of IoT.
Privacy in the Workplace
When discussing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in work operation, similar privacy concerns exist. Here, less than one in five (15 per cent) of employees said that the benefits of using personal devices in work (where usage can be tracked) outweighed the risks and a further one in three (33 per cent) saw the risks as outweighing the benefits.
Government and Business Privacy & Responsibility – Appreciated but Inconsistent
Who Australians think is responsible for the protection of their personal information:
• The individual: 35 per cent
• The Government: 34 per cent
• Businesses: 28 per cent
From a business perspective, nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians think that companies with privacy policies are more trustworthy than those without, however there was lower agreement that companies ask permission before sharing information to third parties (44 per cent).
“If anything, these findings should act as a wake-up call to both the government and businesses that they aren’t doing enough to communicate and improve transparency and accountability regarding privacy. Both need to instill greater trust in the public, and with the continued proliferation of the Internet of Things across various sectors of everyday life; this need is only going to increase. It’s clear that the public wants to believe that their data is safe, but much needs to be done before we can sleep easy,” Struthers concluded.